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Israel Confirms September Air Strike on Syria

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem), &

Israel's military censor decided to cancel the ban on publication of information regarding the Israeli air strike that took place in Syria early in September after Syrian President Bashar Assad and Knesset Member Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) acknowledged that the event took place.

A YnetNews source said that after the two men gave television interviews in which they discussed the air strike "it was pathetic and ridiculous to continue to deny that the event took place and to cite foreign and anonymous sources".

In an interview with the BBC, the Syrian head of state said that Israel had attacked an abandoned army base in the northeast of the country. He also said that "Syria reserves the right to retaliate to the attack."

Former Prime Minister Netanyahu was the only source in Israel to acknowledge the Israeli Air Force's operation when he admitted in a television interview that he had given his blessing to the mission.

Before the military censor lifted the gag order, the Israeli media was obligated to cite reports made by foreign sources when discussing details of the attack. According to these foreign reports, the Israeli Air Force attacked a Syrian military installation that contained nuclear material provided to the Arab state by North Korea.

A source from within the Prime Minister's office clarified that there has been no change in policy regarding the events that took place in Syria last month. The only difference is that reporters will no longer need to cite foreign reports when writing about the incident the source said.

Israeli analyst Eyal Zisser said Israel sent a warning to Syria via the air strike. "Actually, what happened was that Israel called Bashar's bluff," he said.

Zisser said the fact that Syria did not respond militarily to the Israeli air strike shows that Assad does not want to take on the Jewish State. "Syria does understand clearly the balance of power between Israel and Syria, and I do believe that from now on Syria will be much more careful, including in what Bashar has to say to its own people," he added.

Despite the initial secrecy, Netanyahu acknowledged on September 19 that an unspecified military operation had been carried out in Syria. Netanyahu told Channel One TV that he had been briefed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the impending operation "from the start" and had praised Olmert's decision to go ahead with the attack. He also said he had personally congratulated Olmert, chairman of the rival Kadima party, on the success of the operation. Netanyahu was subsequently slammed by defense officials, who called his public leak to the media "the highest level of irresponsibility."

On Saturday, September 29, Syrian Vice President Farouk Al-Shara'a reiterated Syrian claims that Israel's reported raid was not a bombing at all. "Everything reported about this raid is wrong and is part of a psychological warfare that will not fool Syria," he said, adding, "They (Israel) are making up things to justify an aggression in the future. They are playing on public opinion to mislead it." Reports of the operation were, he claimed, an attempt by Israel to "restore the image of the Israeli army following its defeat by the Lebanese resistance last year."

While saying that the September 6th Israeli operation was nothing more than a flyover, Syria's ambassador to the US, Imad Moustapha, told Newsweek last month that Israel would nonetheless "pay a price" for it.

According to a Washington Post report published September 15, the IAF raid targeted facilities that were used to process nuclear materials shipped in from North Korea several days earlier. The attack targeted an "agricultural research center" that Israel believed was actually a facility used by the Syrians to extract uranium from phosphates, according to unnamed "Israeli defense sources."

Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jerida reported that the intelligence for Israel's attack on a Syrian target was provided by Gen. Ali Reza Asgari, who defected from Iran a few months ago. Asgari was allegedly involved in the development of Syria's missile program.

Another Kuwaiti paper, Al-Watan, quoted diplomatic sources in Europe as saying that US jets circled above the Israeli fighters and gave them aerial cover during the operation. The newspaper also said that Russian experts are trying to understand how the IAF jets managed to enter deep into Syrian territory without setting off two Russian-built radar systems in place in Syria.

The London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat reported last month that, according to NATO sources, the Israeli jets made their way to their target by way of the Turkish border with Syria. The sources told the newspaper that Israeli jets fired four missiles at a target the Israelis believed was being used for weapons development with Iranian and North Korean assistance; only one of the missiles struck the targeted building. The NATO sources were quoted as saying that Israel's main objective was to warn the Syrians that Israel knows about its secret weapons programs, as well as to test the abilities of the new advanced Russian air defense system recently purchased by Syria.

Israel Releases 29 Palestinian Prisoners to Gaza

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel has released another group of Palestinian prisoners in a bid to shore up the peace process. But the move has been criticized by Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Palestinian families celebrated as Israel released another 29 security prisoners, bringing the two-day total to 86. But the joy was only partial. One of the released prisoners, Annis Sabah, said all of 11,000 Palestinians in Israel jails should be freed. "It is not enough," he said. "This is not a real gesture, but rather a way to silence the Palestinian people."

Israel said the prisoner release is a goodwill gesture to western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before an international peace conference in the United States planned for November. Abbas heads a moderate government in the West Bank, after the Islamic terrorist group Hamas routed his Fatah forces in the Gaza Strip three months ago.

"We want to see tangible improvements in security issues, in economic issues in other issues for the Palestinian people. We want the Palestinian people to understand that moderation pays, that non-violence pays," said Israeli spokesman Mark Regev.

But many Israelis see the prisoner release as a reward for Palestinian terrorism. In fact, the Israeli army chief opposed releasing the 29 prisoners freed Tuesday because they are from the Gaza Strip. He said it would be immoral to free the men while Palestinians are holding an Israeli soldier captive in Gaza. Cpl. Gilad Shalit was captured by terrorists in a cross-border raid more than a year ago.

The Israeli government delayed the release of the 29 Gazans for a day while it considered the army chief's objections. But the government went ahead with the release, hoping that it will improve the atmosphere for peace talks.

Livni: UN Established to Prevent a Holocaust


Iran speaks openly of its desire to wipe Israel off the map, and the world does nothing, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the United Nations General Assembly. "Too many see the danger but walk idly by – hoping that someone else will take care of it," she said, adding that Iran was the most prominent sponsor of terrorist in the world.

"It is a major source of instability and conflict in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and across the entire Middle East and it is the enemy of Arab-Israeli co-existence," she added.

Addressing the issue of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial, Livni said, "No one disagrees that Iran denies the Holocaust and speaks openly of its desire to wipe a member state – mine – off the map. And none disagrees that, in violation of Security Council resolutions, it is actively pursuing the means to achieve this end. But there are still those who, in the name of consensus and engagement, continue to obstruct the urgent steps which are needed to bring Iran's sinister ambitions to a halt."

The foreign minister reminded the representatives of the UN member states that the organization was established after the Shoah with the goal of preventing another Holocaust.

"What is the value, we have to ask, of an organization which is unable to take effective action in the face of a direct assault on the very principles it was founded to protect? It is time for the United Nations, and the states of the world, to live up to their promise of never again. To say enough is enough, to act now and to defend their basic values."

In her speech Monday, Livni also mentioned the three kidnapped IDF soldiers, whose family members were present at the Assembly while she spoke. Addressing the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Livni said, "There is no substitute for the bilateral process. Failure is not an option – but it is for the parties themselves to define success."

The foreign minister said that Israel opposed the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. "The foundation for true peace lies in the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The world shares this vision, but it is also important that it clearly embraces the two core principles that emerge from it.

The first – two states, two homelands - just as Israel is homeland to the Jewish people, so Palestine will be established as the homeland and the national answer for the Palestinian people, including the refugees. The second – living side by side in peace and security - just as a viable and prosperous Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza is an Israeli interest, so a secure Israel must be a Palestinian interest. The world cannot afford another terror state."

In a direct appeal to the Arab world, Livni stated, "As the parties take the risks for peace, we look to the international community and the Arab and Muslim world, to offer support, not to stipulate conditions.

This support comes in many forms. It comes through economic and political assistance to the new Palestinian government, committed to co-existence and seeking to build the foundations of a peaceful and prosperous state. "It comes through clear endorsement of any political understandings reached between the parties. It comes through enhancing and deepening regional ties and cooperation between the Arab world and Israel, while in parallel we make advancement towards Israeli-Palestinian peace. And, finally, it comes by confronting those determined to prevent us from succeeding."

The foreign minister stressed that Israel had proved that it was ready for a territorial compromise that lasting peace entails, "But we also know– especially after withdrawing from Lebanon and Gaza - that territorial withdrawal by itself will not bring peace unless we address the core clash of values that lies beneath the conflict. "Israel may be on the front lines of this battle, but it is not our fight alone. This is a global battle."

Livni noted that the Middle East conflict was "not a cause of this global extremist agenda, but a consequence of it." She called on the nations of the world "to be partners in a shared global struggle against the extremism and terror that feed conflict, for your sake not just for ours."

The foreign minister warned that "the notion that this battle was a local one - limited to isolated regions - collapsed in this city with the twin towers on a September morning six years ago. Today it is clear that the extremists are engaged in a bloody war against civilians and communities, against hearts and minds, in every corner of the world."

"This battle is global not just because it targets civilians everywhere, but also because the extremists have taken aim at the fundamental pillars of every modern society: democracy, tolerance and education. These are the new battlefields of the 21st century, and it is in these arenas, more than any other, that the future of our world will be decided.

"Democracy is a profound ideal, but it is also a vulnerable one," Livni said. "Today, in different parts of the world, extremists - opposed to the very ideals of democracy - are entering the democratic process not to abandon their violent agenda but to advance it. As a spokesman for Al Qaeda recently declared 'We will use your democracy to destroy your democracy'. This should be a wake up-call for us all. It is time to reclaim democracy, and this begins by rejecting those who abuse it.

Genuine democracy is about values before it is about voting. No true democracy on earth allows armed militia, or groups with racist or violent agendas, to participate in elections."

The foreign minister made it clear that "Hamas and Hizbullah must be presented with a clear choice - between the path of violence and the path of legitimacy. They cannot have both. And it is this same stark choice that must be presented to the radical regime in Iran."

Creation Occurred 6,010 Years Ago, Says Historian

By (Book Review)

How old is the world? Most people would say: "Nobody knows."

But the author of the book frequently described as the greatest history book ever written, said the world was created Oct. 23, 4004 B.C. – making it exactly 6,009 last Monday.

In the 1650s, an Anglican bishop named James Ussher published his "Annals of the World," subtitled, "The Origin of Time, and Continued to the Beginning of the Emperor Vespasian's Reign and the Total Destruction and Abolition of the Temple and Commonwealth of the Jews." First published in Latin, it consisted of more than 1,600 pages.

The book, now published in English for the first time, is a favorite of those who take ancient history seriously. It's the history of the world from the Garden of Eden to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Of course, there will be those who disagree with Ussher's calculations of time – especially evolutionists who need billions of years to explain their theory of how life sprang from non-life and mutated from one-celled animals into human beings.

Ussher's arrival at the date of Oct. 23 was determined based on the fact that most peoples of antiquity, especially the Jews, started their calendar at harvest time. Ussher concluded there must be good reason for this, so he chose the first Sunday following autumnal equinox.

Although the autumnal equinox is Sept. 21 today, that is only because of historical calendar-juggling to make the years come out right.

If you think this is a startling fact – an actual date for Creation – you haven't seen anything until you've pored through the rest of Ussher's "Annals of the World." It's a classic history book for those who believe in the Bible – and a compelling challenge for those who don't.

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